The Hurry-Up: All-American Bowl Helped Increase Already-Strong Relationships Among Midyear Enrollees, Buckeyes Offer Georgia ATH Nathaniel Wiggins

By Zack Carpenter on January 30, 2020 at 6:30 pm
Gee Scott Jr., Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Gee Scott Jr., Jaxon Smith-Njigba

The Hurry-Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.

Buckeyes built bonds

When Gee Scott Jr. first spoke with CJ Stroud at The Opening Finals in Frisco, Texas last summer, the 2020 Ohio State receiver commit had an odd feeling. A positive feeling, but a weird one nonetheless. 

"We instantly bonded," Scott told Eleven Warriors at the All-American Bowl in early January. "I even vividly remember feeling a weird feeling. This was before he was even a commit. I felt like telling him, ‘Man, you’re gonna be a Buckeye. I can just feel it.’"

That day was one of the first moments that Scott, Stroud, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Lejond Cavazos, Lathan Ransom and Julian Fleming – all eventual Buckeye signees and all but Ransom an eventual midyear enrollee – truly began to bond, and at the All-American Bowl nearly a month ago, those bonds between Scott, Stroud, Smith-Njigba and Ransom, as well as fellow West teammate Kourt Williams, strengthened further.

For Stroud, throwing with Smith-Njigba and Scott during The Opening and then practices leading up to the All-American game felt like he had been throwing with them for years.

"It feels like our chemistry is just on, like, top 20. It doesn’t matter who’s going against us," Stroud told Eleven Warriors. "We’re just gonna shred ‘em. You feel that energy. I look at Jaxon. I just give him a look, and he knows exactly what to do. It’s kind of weird, but it’s something we’re gonna perfect as well."

“I’ve had some (brotherhoods) that are bigger, and I’ve had some that are bigger than ours is now. But I’ve never had one like what ours could be — what ours is going to be at some point.”– Ohio State 2020 receiver signee Gee Scott Jr. on his bonds with his fellow buckeye signees

When Smith-Njigba suffered an ankle injury during drills in a mid-week practice, Stroud was one of the first to sprint over to his future teammate, put his arm around him and help him off the field. It might seem inconsequential or small, but it's little things like that – the natural reaction of a friend and teammate to rush to his aid – that proved to Smith-Njigba what he already knew.

"I mean, it’s crazy. We’ve already had these conversations, like, he’s got my back through anything, and I’ve got his back through anything," Smith-Njigba told Eleven Warriors of Stroud. "Same with Gee Scott. Same with the rest of the guys. Me and (CJ), specifically, we sat down, and he’s like, ‘I got you on anything,’ and he knows I got him on anything. He’s there for me. He cares for my health. He doesn’t just see me as a receiver that catches balls. He seems me more as a person and a brother."

It might sound cliché, but there's a good chance that the week they spent in hotel rooms, on practice fields and walking around San Antonio will be looked back on years from now by these guys as the time they realized they were part of a special class.

"I’ve had a lot of great brotherhoods," Scott said. "I’ve had some that are bigger, and I’ve had some that are bigger than ours is now. But I’ve never had one like what ours could be — what ours is going to be at some point. I feel like this brotherhood we have starting now, down the line three years from now when we’re juniors, we’re gonna be like brothers — 100 percent like brothers. I’m excited for where we’re starting together."

Ohio State offers Wiggins

Another offer in the 2021 class was dished out by the Buckeyes, as three-star athlete Nathaniel Wiggins on Thursday announced an offer.

Wiggins is a 6-foot-2, 170-pound junior from Westlake High School in Atlanta, and he's the 13th player from the Peach State to receive an Ohio State offer. Jordan Hancock is the other uncommitted defensive back prospect from Georgia to get one.

Wiggins is the No. 37-ranked athlete in the 2021 class, 410th-ranked overall recruit and 37th-ranked recruit in Georgia. His offers include Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Michigan State, Minnesota, South Carolina and Tennessee. 

Wiggins, especially on his first play in the video above, flashes some good cornerback skills, notably in one-on-one coverage on multiple plays, and is a playmaker as a return man as well. He's a quality receiver as well. With special teams coordinator/assistant secondary coach Matt Barnes as his primary recruiter, and with two receivers already committed to Ohio State in the 2021 class, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Jayden Ballard (with two more high-caliber targets they are aggressively recruiting in Emeka Egbuka and Troy Stelllato), Wiggins is being recruited at defensive back by Ohio State. 

Like Cameron Martinez, who was a star quarterback at Muskegon (Mich.) High School, perhaps the Buckeyes are keeping an eye on Wiggins because he's a similar three-star recruit with versatility, athleticism, raw coverage/ball skills and potential to ascend at the position with the right development. 

Notre Dame an OL recruiter to beat

In terms of building one of the best offensive line recruiting classes in the country in 2021, Ohio State has as good of a one-two punch as you will find in Donovan Jackson, the No. 1-ranked offensive guard, and Ben Christman, the No. 10-ranked offensive tackle. 

The Buckeyes will be able to build on that pair as its building block going forward, and they have plenty of momentum right now. 

Notre Dame could end up being the biggest rival for the Buckeyes in offensive line recruiting in this cycle. The Irish already have Blake Fisher, the No. 9-ranked OT, and Greg Crippen, the No. 8-ranked OG, as its first two 2021 O-line commits, and they are heavily recruiting Rocco Spindler, who will be the gem of whatever program's recruiting class he joins and seems to be a Notre Dame lean at this point in the process.

On Wednesday, the Irish also offered four-star offensive tackle Tristan Leigh, who is up there among the top three or four targets on the O-line on Ohio State's board.

In some order, Ohio State, Clemson, Penn State, LSU and Alabama are Leigh's top schools at this point, but don't be surprised if Notre Dame ends up making an impression and getting itself thickly embedded in his recruitment despite coming to the party a bit late.

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